Industry giants partner to combat illegal, online pharmacies

A nonprofit dedicated to ensuring online pharmacy safety, whose roots date back to an informal advocacy group started 4 years ago, was this week officially chartered in Washington, D.C.

The board of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) includes industry leaders from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), Eli Lilly, LegitScript, and FWD Strategies International.

Although based in the United States, ASOP will work with organizations throughout the world to educate and protect consumers from illegal, online pharmacy operations.

“This is a huge milestone for ASOP and reflects the dedication of our many members and partners, both domestically and globally, to focus on the growing threat to public health presented by illegitimate, online drug sellers,” said Diane Darvey, ASOP president and NACDS’ director, federal & state public policy.

Jeannie Salo, of Eli Lilly and Company, will serve as ASOP’s secretary; Libby Baney, of FWD Strategies International, will serve as the board’s treasurer and executive director; and John Horton of LegitScript will be a board member.

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Internet Pharmacies: Federal Agencies and States Face Challenges Combating Rogue Sites, Particularly Those Abroad, detailing the problem of illegal, online pharmacies.  It concluded that 97% of all online drug sellers operate illegally, 1 in 4 Americans have purchased prescription medicines online, and there are approximately 35,000 – 50,000 online drug-seller websites.

“These alarming trends compel ASOP to stand up and do more to protect patients when online,” said Baney, ASOP’s executive director. “Governments, the private sector, and consumer advocates must work together to develop new tools in the age of the Internet that will preserve the freedom and integrity of the Internet while also combating this obvious threat to public health and patients everywhere.”

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